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BFCSA: Ex ASIC lawyer accused of defrauding sick father out of $832k. ASIC investigating!

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ASIC doing a modicom of work



Ex-ASIC lawyer accused of defrauding her father

16 April 2016

Sarah Danckert



In January 2014, when Bradley Grimm and his wife Vanessa Ash moved into the sprawling mansion in Rockingham Close in Melbourne's well-heeled suburb of Kew, the owner of the property was unaware his tenants had allegedly defrauded him.  Tucked away in a nursing home in the equally blue-ribbon suburb of Armadale, the owner of the property, Vanessa Ash's 76-year old father Graham Ash, was not making his own financial decisions after a nasty fall and the onset of Parkinson's cruelled his retirement.  Instead, Graham Ash had appointed his accomplished daughter, a former lawyer for the Australian Securities and Investments Commission and the wife of stockbroker Grimm, his power of attorney in 2012. He later named Vanessa as a director of the trustee company controlling her father's estate and a member of his superannuation fund.


Now Graham Ash, through his tribunal appointed administrator, alleges in a Supreme Court of Victoria his daughter and her husband defrauded him of over $832,013 over a four-month period beginning in December 2013.  It is also alleged the couple moved into the family home in Rockingham Close replete with a swimming pool using a dubious five-year lease agreement that included a bargain base rent of $459 a week.  For their part Vanessa Ash and Grimm believe they are victims of a bitter family dispute and are understood to maintain a loving relationship with Graham Ash and visit him often.


But this is just the beginning of the accusations being levelled against Vanessa Ash and Grimm, the latter of whom has been referred to as the "grim reaper in the Melbourne stockbroking world" under parliamentary privilege.  Last year, the corporate cop filed action in the Federal Court of Victoria against its former employee and Grimm for allegedly ripping off clients of its Ostrava network of financial services companies.  The Ostrava companies and a host of other entities associated with Grimm and Ash are in provisional liquidation and the regulator is seeking winding up orders so that full liquidation can be commenced.  The couple's Collin Street offices, which were a mess when visited by Fairfax Media a year ago, are now vacant after they were turfed by the provisional liquidators.


ASIC's investigation is still ongoing, but the regulator has flagged in court documents that its action could lead to criminal or civil charges being brought against Grimm and Vanessa Ash over their alleged mismanagement of Ostrava client money.  Concerns were first raised over the management of Graham Ash's affairs just months after he moved into the nursing home by Vanessa Ash's sister Tania. 


In January last year, Sue Lyttleton was appointed administrator to the elderly man's affiars by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal in January 2015 after Vanessa Ash accused her sister of proposing a settlement that was unreasonable. Tania Ash, a doctor, was unable to be reached at her Malvern clinic.


Lyttleton alleges $832,013 was transferred in a "sequence of transactions" from Graham Ash's superannuation trustee account into the bank accounts of Ostrava. The transfer was identified as a pension transfer for the father.  "The withdrawal and payment of the plaintiff's pension benefit into one or more Bankwest accounts operated by the Ostrava companies was unnecessary and of no benefit to the plaintiff (Graham Ash)," the statement of claim says.  The transfers were instead to the benefit of Vanessa Ash and Mr Grimm's Ostrava companies and to the benefit of themselves, Lyttleton alleges.


Lyttleton alleges in late October 2015, the couple produced the "purported lease" drafted on December 24, 2014, over the Kew property. The lease names Graham Ash as the landlord and Mr Grimm as the tenant yet Vanessa Ash, using her power of attorney, signed the generous five-year lease on behalf of her father.  Lyttleton says this lease agreement was not to the benefit of Graham Ash and rather to the benefit of Vanessa Ash and Mr Grimm.  By September, Lyttleton sought to evict the couple from the home after forming "the view that it was in the best interests of the plaintiff for the Kew property to be sold with vacant possession and the proceeds to be available to provide for the plaintiff's care and needs".


The administrator alleges for Vanessa Ash and Grimm have refused to leave the property. They have also declined to hand over the money from Graham Ash's super fund.  Indeed, Vanessa Ash and Grimm were home on Friday morning when visited by BusinessDay but declined to comment ahead of releasing a formal statement later on Friday.  Lyttleton alleges the actions of the couple were "dishonest and fraudulent". She is seeking declarations the transfers and lease agreement were unfair to Graham Ash, the return of Ash's money, compensation and costs.


Vanessa Ash says the allegations are wrong. "My father would be horrified that this action was being taken on his behalf," she said. ''I am living in my father's house in accordance with the express wishes of him and my late mother. They always wanted the family to live in the house that my father built.  "I am the sole appointor of the Family Trust and I am the joint executor and joint beneficiary of his will. My family and I visit him every week and love him dearly."


Vanessa Ash says all of the couple's activities in relation to her father's affairs have been lawful and according to his wishes and says the administrator did not know her father when had his faculties. "I have complete faith that we will get a fair hearing in court when we refute these allegations," she says.


Grimm says the Ostrava matter was before the Federal Court on April 1 for directions where the judge ordered mediation, which will occur in mid-May. "We are hopeful that the matter will be resolved in that forum," he says.  ASIC has declined to comment.  It's not the first time Grimm has been the subject of serious allegations. In May last year, Fairfax Media revealed ASIC had been warned about Grimm's business dealings in 2005 by Labor MP Luke Donnellan, who is now minister for Ports and Roads and Road Safety.



Donnellan requested a review of Grimm's "fraudulent investment activities and the obtaining of financial advantage by deception" under parliamentary privilege.  "Grimm is indeed the grim reaper in the Melbourne stockbroking world," Donnellan said.  Donnellan alleged Mr Grimm raised $1 million from mum and dad investors leading up to and during the dot-com boom in the late 1990s and early 2000s through investment company Equity Partnership.  Yet, ASIC took no action and Grimm has maintained the allegations stem from an embittered former business partner.  Time will tell whether Grimm is really the reaper or whether he and Vanessa Ash have had another terrible misunderstanding.

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  • Duped
    Duped Sunday, 17 April 2016

    Probably learned how to attempt to deceive from the ASIC, APRA, BANK, FOS and CIO gene pool !

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